FAYETTEVILLE (UofA) - The University of Arkansas baseball team is ranked eighth in the Collegiate Baseball preseason top 40 poll, released on Monday.
The Razorbacks return 19 letterwinners from last year's team that finished with a 40-22 record and won the SEC Western Division championship. Arkansas returns five position starters from last year's team, including freshman All-American Dominic Ficociello, who hit .335 with four homers and 50 RBI in 2011.
On the mound, the Razorbacks return 10 pitchers, led by junior DJ Baxendale, who earned second-team All-SEC honors after going 10-2 with a 1.58 ERA last year. The Razorbacks also bring back freshman All-Americans Barrett Astin and Nolan Sanburn. Astin went 5-2 with three saves a 2.72 ERA last season, while Sanburn posted a 2-4 record with a team-high eight saves and a 3.62 ERA.
The SEC was well represented in the poll with six league teams among the top 40. Joining Arkansas in the top 10 are Florida at No. 1 and defending national champion South Carolina at No. 2. LSU (No. 12), Georgia (No. 18) and Vanderbilt (No. 23) are also ranked in the poll. Two of Arkansas' non-conference opponents in 2012 were among the top 40 as Texas (No. 5) and Oklahoma (No. 16) were included in the rankings.
Arkansas opens the 2012 season on Friday, Feb. 17, when it hosts Villanova at Baum Stadium. First pitch is set for 3:05 p.m.